A friend asked me this question earlier today…..and as I responded to her, a series of human emotions engulfed me. As humans, one of our key differentiators from many animals is our ability to emote….and with my stoic face, often expressionless, barely a smile or frown coming through, do I come across as being less emotional ? Am i actually heartless, as some people who have worked with me, have accused me of being ?
I still vividly remember, standing by my dad’s funeral pyre 18 years ago, I asked my boss about a meeting that was scheduled with the client the next day. All he said was, “we will talk later”. Did I not have any emotions at that time ? I didn’t cry when my dad died, not because i had this filmi theory of celebrating his life ; but simply because an escape mechanism in my head was stopping me from thinking about what had happened. It was my escapist route to emote.
Between 2006 and 2010, I built a business from scratch to 350 crs, created a team of 3000 people. On my farewell, a 1000 people in Bangkok give me a standing ovation and had to be persuaded to sit down. Was a good setting to let a tear flow from the eye. But no, i stood on stage, power point on screen and gave a thundering presentation on what leadership truly means. Was i not emotional ? Was there a quiver in my voice? Of course there was, but the strong CEO could not show it. My act was my escape.
What do I keep escaping from ? There seemed to be, deep inside, a hidden insecurity. A feeling that crying would make me weak. A need to project strength and confidence, ….. Surprisingly, unlike many men, it was never a case of “frailty thy name is woman”.
Over the years, with conscious effort, I have tried to bring out the softer side of me. I am more willing to be weak in public. I am more willing to cry in front of others. I am more willing to put down my emotions in words.
I cry. And I cry. I do it when the world sleeps. Because then I am alone, and only I can hear myself crying !